Tom Murray

Education for Emigration: 2015

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A letter accompanied a recent dole payment. It advertised a ‘networking and interview day for Irish Teachers DIRECTLY with UK schools’ (emphasis in original). The exclamation mark in the letter’s heading – ‘Teaching Opportunities in the UK!’ - illustrates neatly how readily, even enthusiastically the Irish state is prepared to export Ireland’s young people in order to preserve the status quo.

Two Irelands: the case of Roscommon Hospital

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THERE ARE TWO IRELANDS – reality for people like you and me; fantasy for the rich and their political servants.

Frank Feighan lives in fantasy Ireland. He was elected TD for Roscommon/South Leitrim in 2011 on the basis of a pledge not to downgrade Roscommon Hospital. Enda Kenny even made a speech in Roscommon town promising to keep the hospital at its current capacity [1]. Once elected, Feighan and Fine Gael broke their promises in order to support the global financial system and to open up Ireland’s welfare services to retrenchment and privatisation. Roscommon County Hospital was downgraded in 2011, losing its 24-hour accident and emergency service. Local people reacted angrily to this betrayal, occupying the hospital for a number of days, organising local demonstrations in the town and a national demonstration outside the Dáil. Neighbours generally shunned Feighan in his constituency, painting slogans like ‘traitor’ on bales of hay on the roads leading to his home.
 

Striking Bus Drivers or Climate Warriors? Notes on Ireland’s Eco-Transport Struggles

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Could climate change become a catalysing force for radical social transformation in Ireland? Recent struggles around public transport in Ireland prompted me to think along these lines. Last weekend, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann workers went on strike over plans by the National Transport Authority to tender out 10% of public routes to private operators. A few days earlier, SIPTU’s banner at Liberty Hall had been unfurled to state: ‘Say No to Privatisation; privatisation results in fare increase, reduced services, a threat to free travel, a bad deal for taxpayers and job cuts’. SIPTU and NBRU members and strike organisers have emphasised the damage privatisation will do to society, primarily concentrating on the loss of community services and the race to the bottom in bus drivers’ terms and conditions [1]. The striking workers deserve our support and their claims should be taken seriously. This is definitely the case when the regime media adhere to a deeply unimaginative line, loudly declaiming traffic disruption to an imagined city of angry consumers and silently accepting the hollowing out of public services [2]. At the same time, however, we also need to think about what’s not being said, about the words that don’t make it on to the papers or the banner.
 

The Spirit of Anarchism? Book Review: Cindy Milstein, 2010, Anarchism and its Aspirations. Edinburgh: AK Press.

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‘By anarchist spirit I mean that deeply human sentiment, which aims at the good of all, freedom and justice for all, solidarity and love among the people; which is not an exclusive characteristic only of self-declared anarchists, but inspires all people who have a generous heart and an open mind’.

Hope, Friendship and Surprise in the Zombie Time of Capitalism: An interview with Gustavo Esteva

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Gustavo Esteva is an independent writer and grassroots activist. He has been a central contributor to a wide range of Mexican, Latin American, and international nongovernmental organizations and solidarity networks, including the Universidad de la Tierra en Oaxaca and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. The WSM's Tom Murray caught up with Gustavo at a recent public lecture at the Kimmage Development Centre to discuss hope, friendship and surprise in the zombie-time of capitalism, and how people are taking initiatives, reclaiming control of their lives and creating vibrant, autonomous alternatives here today.

Projects of Death in Mexico’s Sierra Norte - Community and Environment Under Attack

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OLINTLA is a small village in the Sierra Norte, a remote, mountainous region to the east of Mexico City. The landscape there is dramatic, green and beautiful, mostly sunlit jungle, rivers and wildlife. The hillsides are occasionally populated by farming towns and villages, mainly indigenous communities whose way of life is constantly threatened. In recent years, the Mexican state has accelerated plans for the development of a vast hydroelectric power plant in the area, directly impacting the people in Olintla and about a dozen or so neighbouring communities. What appears on the surface to be a ‘green energy’ project is in fact closely bound up with community displacement and the aggressive extraction of local oil and gas reserves, primarily to the detriment of the region’s water resources and wider capacity to sustain life. Unfortunately, Olintla is far from an atypical case but represents how indigenous communities in Mexico, as in Latin America more generally, tend to bear the brunt of the state’s creation of opportunities for private capital accumulation, called ‘development’ by those in power and ‘projects of death’ by the communities affected.[1]

 

Gustavo Esteva Interview

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Gustavo Esteva is an independent writer and grassroots activist. He has been a central figure in a wide range of Mexican, Latin American, and international nongovernmental organizations and solidarity networks, including the Universidad de la Tierra en Oaxaca and the Zapatistas. The WSM's Tom Murray caught up with Gustavo at a recent public lecture at the Kimmage Development Centre to discuss hope, friendship and surprise in the zombie-time of capitalism, and how people are taking initiatives, reclaiming control of their lives and creating vibrant, autonomous alternatives here today.
 

Review: David Graebers ‘The Democracy Project’.

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Many of us have an Occupy story. Mine took place in New York on March 17th of 2012, the six-month anniversary of the first occupation of Zuccotti Park, and the three-month anniversary of its eviction. I joined about five hundred or so Occupiers who had gathered after dark on the Manhattan side of Brooklyn Bridge. As we marched the three blocks or so to reclaim Zuccotti Park, NYPD’s finest, fully armed, literally lined the street each step of the way. And in the park itself a surveillance tower loomed overhead. 
 

Report on Dublin Council of Trade Unions Pre-Budget Demonstration

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A crowd of over 500 people took part in Saturday’s  pre-budget march called by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions. The DCTU’s core message was to demand progressive taxation and public investment as an alternative to further cuts in public spending. 

As always, the Spectacle of Defiance and Hope contributed greatly to the atmosphere of the rally with impressive visual and musical displays. A hearse and coffin led the protest, followed by nine giant posters bearing the much unloved faces of nine government ministers with the blood red inscription “Austerity Kills”. The Spectacle’s second message reverberated in song through the streets: “Arise, arise, arise!”

 

Review of Paul Mason, 2013, Why It’s STILL Kicking Off Everywhere

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A question. If depression is the inability to construct a future, does depression not appear very like the world’s prevailing mood or zeitgeist right now?  As I write, the immense working majority faces into continued hierarchy, exploitation and polarisation, characterised by, among other things, ecological catastrophe, austerity without end, technocratic governance, nuclear annihilation, escalation of war... Compounding these dilemmas is our collective inability, real or illusory (I am not sure which), to construct an alternative future.

Today, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.  And yet. Something else is stirring. 2011 occasioned a shared, transnational impulse of ‘outrage’, ‘indignation’ and ‘enough’ against the cruelties of global financial institutions and the petty thuggery of enthralled states. The occupation of the world’s squares was simultaneously an impulse of ‘hope’, ‘solidarity’ and ‘the commons’, directed towards a dimly perceived yet somehow more just, more humane future. Tracking their emergence, evolution, fading, and re-emergence around the world – now in Cairo, then in Syntagma, here in Zuccotti Park, there in Puerta del Sol - Paul Mason, BBC journalist and author, has provided an insightful record and (somewhat more questionable) analysis of these revolts.

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